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protest mark ramos downtown police
(Austonia staff)

The Saturday protest began at Austin police headquarters.

Two major protests organized in response to police violence in Austin and around the country shut down I-35 twice and led to looting, fires and injuries this weekend. The Austin Police Department responded in several instances with pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets.


Thousands of protestors gathered on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to demonstrate over the killings of, primarily, Mike Ramos, who was fatally shot by an Austin Police Department officer on April 24 in Southeast Austin, and George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis Police Department officer last week.

The first protest, held on Saturday, was organized by the Mike Ramos Brigade. Its members have not identified themselves, but in a call to action posted on social media they listed their demands, including the firing of APD Chief Brian Manley and the officers involved in Ramos' death.

mike ramos apd protest

Protesters shut down I-35 on Saturday.

(Austonia staff)

APD officers, some of whom were outfitted in riot gear, used rubber bullets and pepper spray against protestors. The day ended with reports of fires and looting along Sixth Street. At least fourteen people were arrested over the course of the day, with charges including robbery, assault on a peace officer and obstructing a highway, according to APD.

A protester sets fire to a flag near I-35 Saturday afternoon. (Austonia staff)

In response to the protest in Austin—as well as others in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and other Texas cities—Gov. Greg Abbott activated the National Guard on Saturday and later declared a state of disaster.

As has happened in other U.S. cities that have seen protests turn destructive, some local activists speculated that the Saturday protest was organized or attended by people intending to incite violence.

A second protest, organized in collaboration with the Austin Justice Coalition and other community groups, was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Sunday. Shortly before, AJC Executive Director Chas Moore announced in a Facebook live post that the event was officially canceled.

"We are supposed to be out demonstrating, peacefully protesting the need for safety and for freedom and liberation for black people," Moore said. "And when I look at what's going on in Austin, when I look at the mess that happened last night, I look at white people burning stuff up in the name of Black Lives Matter and there's little to no black lives at these events."

mike ramos apd protest

Protestors marched along Cesar Chavez Sunday afternoon in a peaceful demonstration.

(Mary Elizabeth Potts)

Nonetheless, hundreds—and then thousands—of protestors showed up in front of the Capitol Sunday, as planned.

The police form a line on Cesar Chavez Sunday afternoon, stopping demonstrators marching from City Hall.

Police then allow protestors to turn north on San Antonio toward Republic Square

From the Capitol, protestors marched to City Hall and back, peacefully, before some continued onto I-35. APD officers used tear gas to force the crowds off the highway and arrested at least five more attendees. The department also reported looting, including at the Capital Plaza Target, on I-35 near Hwy. 290. Late in the day Michael Ramos' mother, Brenda, spoke at a press conference outside her apartment complex.

"Why is Officer [Christopher] Taylor still drawing a paycheck from us, the citizens of Austin?" she asked, pulling down her mask so she could speak. "Why are we paying his salary when he murdered my son over a month ago and he murdered someone else's son over 10 months ago? Why isn't he in jail?"

In a custodial death report filed with Attorney General Ken Paxton's office—as required by state law—APD said the officers involved in Ramos' death were responding to a narcotics call during which Ramos "became non-compliant and verbally confrontational." Taylor, "fearing the male subject intended to use [his car] as a deadly weapon," then shot Ramos with his patrol rifle.

Taylor was one of three officers involved in the fatal shooting of another black man, 46-year-old Mauris Nishanga DeSilva, last July.

On Friday evening—before Austin's planned protests had occurred but after days of unrest in Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta and other cities—Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore announced she had decided to present the Ramos case to a special grand jury. "I reviewed the case today with my Civil Rights Director, and we believe the investigation has progressed to the point that we can properly make the announcement," she said in a statement.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a statement that same evening, in which he said: "I am committed to doing what it takes to make this stop." He also gave a series of interviews Sunday, in which he pointed to the reforms underway at APD, including the decriminalization of smaller crimes and improved oversight.

APD and the Texas Rangers are conducting an internal investigation into Ramos' death, which is being overseen by the city's office of police oversight. Police Monitor Farah Muscadin will review all documents and participate in all interviews, a city spokesperson wrote in an email.

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Lina Martinez with her newly adopted cat, Emmanuel, who she renamed Sullivan.

Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.

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“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”

Actually, a purr-fect idea.

Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.

At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”

Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.

“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”

Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.

“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”

Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.

“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”

Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.

“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”

And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.

“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”

Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.

“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”

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We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.

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